Sponsors Race 

The winning crew as they cross the finish line

Sunday, 12 November 2023    Sydney Harbour    

The Australian 18 Footers League took a step back into history on Sydney Harbour today when it staged a non-point score Sponsors’ Race, with each competing skiff carrying a fourth hand representative of the boat’s sponsor, and used the original Mark Foy handicap system where boats started individually on their designated handicap instead of the usual fleet starting as a group and being ‘handicapped’ throughout the race. 

The race was sailed in a light easterly breeze which never got above 10knots and the first boat to cross the start line today (off a 10mins handicap), under the Mark Foy system, was also the first boat to cross the finish line after leading all the way on a gloomy, overcast harbour.

It was an excellent performance by the winning 18 Footers Bar & Restaurant team and gave all crew members, Hugo Stoner (skipper), Hugo Leeming and Hamish Vass, their first 18 footer victory since joining the fleet three seasons ago.

Joined in the boat for the day was Australian 18 Footers League CEO, Warren Sare, the team  grabbed a big early lead and increased the margin continually throughout the course before scoring an impressive 4m11s  victory.

While the race lacked the close fleet racing and lead changing we see regularly in the 3-buoys racing format, the race behind the winner amongst the next three boats, which all started off a 6mins. handicap, produced a good battle behind the winner.

Marine Outlet (Micah Lane, Cam Gundy, Charlie Gundy) finished in second place, 30s ahead of The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines (Jacob Marks, Alex Marinelli, Matt Doyle), with last week’s winner Smeg (Nathan McNamara) another 29s back in fourth place.

The Kitchen Maker (Lachlan Steel) finished in fifth place with Noakes Red (Bec Hancock) rounding out the top six placings with her team’s best performance of the season so far.

Six of the 17-boat fleet started off the maximum (10mins) or 9mins handicaps and were naturally the leaders as the race began at Robertson Point in the light breeze. 

By the first windward buoy off  Shark Island, 18 Footers Bar & Restaurant already held a big lead and increased the gap over her closest rivals on the run to the wing mark off Clark Island then to the bottom mark back at Robertson Point.

Noakes Red was in second place behind the 18s at Shark Island, closely followed by Sixt (Nathan Edwards), Fisher & Paykel (Jordan Girdis) and Burrawang-Young Henrys (Simon Nearn).

Marine Outlet, The Kitchen Maker, Shaw and Partners Financial Services (Emma Rankin), the Oak Double Bay-4 Pines and Put Your Name Here (Kirk Mitchell) were in the next group behind the leaders.

Following the next beat back to the weather mark off Shark Island, 18 Footers Bar & Restaurant increased her lead to more than two minutes over Noakes Red, with Fisher & Paykel and Marine close behind.

Burrawang-Young Henrys was in fifth place and sailing fast downwind but lost the breeze suddenly and the crew found themselves in trouble and unable to save their boat from a capsize. 

Today’s result sheet and SailMedia’s images from the racing, are attached.        

Racing goes back to normal next Sunday ((November 19) when the League will conduct the final race of the six-race Spring Championship series for the Yandoo Trophy.      

Don’t forget, the club’s regular spectator ferry is back in action as it has been for the past 88 years, and will leave Rose Bay Public Wharf (old wharf) next Sunday at 2pm.

For those unable to get the spectator ferry, you can join the Australian 18 Footers League’s ‘Alternative Ferry in the League’s clubhouse and enjoy all the racing action LIVE on the massive screen broadcasting the SailMedia Livestream camera cat coverage of the racing, and there will be special drinks and food offers for those attending who wish to support their favourite team.              

It’s a really unique way to celebrate the great racing we have seen at the start of the 2023-24 season and all 18 footer supporters are welcome to come down to the clubhouse ‘Alternative’ Ferry.        

If you can’t get out onto Sydney Harbour to see the action-packed racing, or come to the club’s ‘Alternative’ Ferry’, you can catch it LIVE by going to the Club’s www.18footers.com website and clicking on the TV link 

Frank Quealey
Australian 18 Footers League Ltd.